Caesar Salad

Delia Smith’s Summer Collection, published in 1993 and followed by a TV series in 2002, prompted a nationwide run on limes and crème fraîche. Her recipes aren’t the most adventurous, and they can be rather wordy, but they always work. I’ve adapted this one a little, and you can always increase the protein content by adding some strips of grilled chicken. 

Serves 4 (or 6 as a starter)

Ingredients
2 Hearts of Romaine lettuce (traditionally this salad uses Cos lettuce)
1 x 50 g tin anchovy fillets, drained (keep the oil and two of the fillets for the dressing)
40 g Parmesan, finely grated
250g chicken breast strips (optional)

For the croutons:
50 g white bread, crusts removed, cut into 8 mm cubes
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon finely grated Parmesan
1 clove garlic, crushed

For the dressing:
1 large egg
1 clove garlic
juice 1 lime
1 heaped teaspoon mustard powder
½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
150 ml extra virgin olive oil

Method

Pre-heat the oven to 170 fan

First make the croutons: place the cubes of bread in a bowl together with 1 tbsp olive oil and 1 tbsp Parmesan plus the crushed clove of garlic. Stir and toss the bread round to get an even coating of cheese, oil and garlic, then spread the croutons out on the baking sheet and bake them on a high shelf in the oven for 10 minutes. Take care to time this!

When the buzzer goes, remove them from the oven and leave to cool. Meanwhile make the dressing by breaking the egg into the bowl of a food processor and adding the garlic (roughly chopped), the lime juice, and 2 of the anchovy fillets, the mustard powder and Worcestershire sauce.

Switch on and blend everything till smooth; then, keeping the motor running, pour the olive oil and anchovy oil (which can be combined in a jug first) through the feeder funnel in a slow, steady stream. When all the oil is in you should have a slightly thickened, emulsified sauce with the consistency of pouring cream. Taste the dressing and season with freshly ground black pepper and salt if it needs it.

Wash, spin and break up the salad leaves and arrange in a large salad bowl. Snip the remaining anchovies and mix to distribute them evenly among the leaves.

When you’re ready to serve, pour over the dressing and toss very thoroughly to coat all the leaves. Sprinkle in 40 g Parmesan, toss again and finally scatter the croutons over the salad.

If you’re adding chicken, season the chicken breast strips and grill for 5 minutes each side. Cut each strip in three and scatter the pieces over the salad before you add the dressing.

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